Disclaimer: This is not a scientifically substantiated article for educative purposes, and was not written by a scientist. For more information on this topic, and other herein mentioned topics I highly suggest you consult your approved textbooks, real teachers, and peer-reviewed published scientific articles. That all said, read on, and enjoy the rantings of a crazy lunatic.
There was a great article posted here showing the results of a recent survey, and this craftily articulated analysis, that argue the issue of internet access rights. While there are only a couple countries that have specifically made the internet a basic human right (Estonia, France, Finland, and Greece), the US is still floundering around. On the upside, we are afforded freedom of expression on the internet without censorship.
"Under Reno v. ACLU, et al.,7 the Supreme Court of the US ruled that the Internet is “a medium that, unlike radio [a broadcast medium], receives full First Amendment protection.” Thus for someone publishing material on the Net protections are in place similar to those for publishing in a newspaper."
Furthermore, even the UN has already declared this position on the matter;
"The UN has taken an initial step in this direction when it called for universal access to basic communication and information services. Noting that “[k]nowledge, more than ever, is power,” the declaration “embrace[s] the objective of establishing universal access to basic communication and information services for all"
In fact, all industrial nations with the exception of Japan, have a majority of the population that agree on the topic. Why then are we sitting here without it?
If it were to become a basic human right, this means that internet access, to some extent (by extent I mean total available bandwidth per household), would be free. Aha! I see now. Internet Access Providers do have lobbyists ya know. I'm starting to think I'm on to something here. I shall ponder this some more.
Why then do we have Sentor Lieberman backing a bill that could give The President the ability to shut down the internet? There is no magic button to shut the internet down. However, you could "force" ISP's to shut down, filter or block traffic. Also note this is just a first draft of the proposed bill that is still open for debate, argument, revision, etc. and there is but one paragraph that is controversial. It is also still pending senate approval. However, the proposed bill is in large sum an excellent bill. I've read the bill in full. It's quite a good plan, that establishes agencies, processes and programs for the development of the United States ability to grow into a nation that is cyber security aware and responsible. I do encourage you to read it, if it interests you. BUT - and there is a but here, it includes a little gotcha - termination of internet systems and networks.
The reason why this topic does stir up respectably deserved controversy is because a case can be made for possible government mandated filtering and censorship. This, in spite of the fact that the courts already ruled the internet is no less deserving of protection from censorship than any other media format (i.e. newspapers).
In particular, here is the paragraph that everyone is concerned about;
5 (2) may declare a cybersecurity emergency and
6 order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic
7 to and from any compromised Federal government
8 or United States critical infrastructure information
9 system or network;
Ok, now consider that in the event of a national weather emergency, the government shuts down streets and roads. Perfectly reasonable. If there is a bomb threat, we shut buildings down. In this case, if approved, and in the event of a national cyber security threat, the president can shut down the internet for compromised federal agencies. Ok, sounds good. However, its that next peice that causes all the trouble - "or United States critical infrastructure information system or network". Now that is CLEARLY NOT CLEAR and in need of some clarity. I bet you want to know what classifies as US critical infrastructure information systems and networks? Fear not, I'm come prepared! The bill then defines that classification as;
1 (A) Federal Government information sys
2 tems and networks; and
3 (B) State, local, and nongovernmental in
4 formation systems and networks in the United
5 States designated by the President as critical
6 infrastructure information systems and networks.
The bill, on whole, would be perfect with the removal of that one huge red flag! Though, seriously, if there were a national cyber security threat, to which turning off the internet would actually protect my systems then i'm all for it. Thank god someone is watching out for me. I'm not an internet security specialist, so I'll leave that to smarter folks to determine. Could the power be used though to start filtering my content? However, for you conspiracy theorists out there, do you really think America would sit idle while the President lounges in an arm-chair in the Bahamas casually ordering his staff "Ok guys, I'm in a mood today, lets shut down the internet for the next month". I'm lol'ing in my chair too.
I seriously hope this gets corrected before approval.
If the US would simply pass a bill that clearly states that internet access is a basic human right then any such nonsense of total internet domination and control would be moot.
Well, there's my rant for the day.